Financial Aid Literacy FAQ’s

What types of financial aid must be repaid and what types do not have to be repaid?

Scholarships and grants are gift aid and do not have to be repaid.  Loans must be repaid, with interest.

What about the scholarship search services that I keep reading about?

Beware of any scholarship search service that guarantees results, especially for a fee.  Use caution with unsolicited offers of assistance and read all the fine print carefully.

Review a list of scholarships available from outside sources at

I have a federal work-study (FWS) award.  How does that work?

The FWS award allows you to obtain a Federal Work-Study job and earn up to the amount of your award.  The FWS award is not credited to your student financial account.  You are paid weekly for the hours that you work.  View all the available positions, both FWS and non-FWS.  Students are responsible for finding their own job on campus

How do I apply for the Federal Direct Loan?

When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you are applying for a Federal Direct Loan that may be part of your financial aid award.

After completing the FAFSA, you will also need to complete 2 steps in order for a loan to be disbursed to your student bursar account: a Federal Master Promissory Note (MPN) and an Entrance Counseling Session.  It will take about 3 days from the time of submission of these 2 steps for us to receive your information.  Both steps can be completed on the Student Aid website at by logging in with your FSA ID and password.

What is the difference between a Subsidized Federal Direct Loan and an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan?

Subsidized loan – The government pays your interest while you are enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours) in college.

Unsubsidized loan – The student can defer the interest payments to begin when no longer enrolled at least half-time.

What is default?

Default is the failure to repay on a loan.  It will have a negative impact on your credit history and ability to borrow in the future.

What is a Master Promissory Note? 

It is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan to the Department of Education.  It is completed one time prior to borrowing a federal loan at the institution the student is attending, and is valid for 10 years.

What is a Loan Entrance Counseling Session?

It is online training at the Department of Education’s website to assist a student’s understanding of rights and responsibilities as a federal student loan borrower.  It is completed one time prior to borrowing a federal loan at the institution the student is attending.

What is the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement (ASLA)?

Beginning in 2020/2021, it requires student and parent borrowers to view how much they currently owe in federal student loans, and to acknowledge they have seen these amounts before borrowing new loans each award year.  This is required before receiving the first disbursement on the first Direct loan the student or parent borrows for each new award year.  The ASLA requirement does not replace any current loan borrowing requirement, it is additional.


Loan Limits

Annual Loan Limit

The loan type requested, the program length, and the borrower’s class year determine a borrower’s annual loan limit.

The chart below shows the annual maximum a student may borrow, in combination, in Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

Annual Loan Limit
Acad Level/Independ. StudentBase Student LoanDepend. Student
Program Length (Unsub)(Sub and/or Unsub) Add’l (Unsub)Add’l
First Yr. (0-29 cr) Undergraduates$3,500$2,000$6,000
Second Yr. (30-59) Undergraduates$4,500 $2,000$6,000
Third Yr. and beyond (60-90+)$5,500 $2,000 $7,000
Graduate Students$20,500 (Unsub only)

Aggregate Loan Limits

Borrowing limits always include the amounts a student has outstanding in subsidized and unsubsidized loans, even if the student has consolidated any of these loans.

Aggregate Loan Limits
Dependent UndergraduateIndependent UndergraduatePLUS LoansGraduate Loans
$31,000 Sub and/or Unsub$57,500 Sub and/or UnsubNo Limit $138,500 Sub and/or Unsub, with Sub limited
$23,000 limit for Subsidized$23,000 limit for Subsidized$65,500, includes any loans outstanding from undergraduate study


Loan Repayment

There is one six-month grace period prior to loan repayment starting.  Once a student is no longer enrolled at least half-time (summers excluded), the grace period begins.  Lenders/servicers will contact borrowers during the grace period to set up repayment plans.


Estimated Monthly Payments for Student Loans in Repayment


Loan Debt                           Monthly Payment                           Number of Payments

$10,000                                 $122.65                                                 120

$15,000                                 $183.98                                                 120

$20,000                                 $245.31                                                 120

$25,000                                 $306.63                                                 120

$30,000                                 $367.96                                                 120

$35,000                                 $429.28                                                 120

$40,000                                 $490.61                                                 120

$45,000                                 $551.94                                                 120